are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
(Excellence in faith)...just thinking the word in my head has a special ring to
it, brings a certain unique, inspiring feeling to my heart. This word, this
topic moves me. I hope it has that effect on you as well. Our
religion, our way of life is composed of three parts:
discuss ihsan, we must briefly go through the first two, Iman and Islam.
or faith must be mentioned as the first part of our deen because it serves as
our roots. For many years of the Prophet-hood of Muhammad, Allah (God) revealed
nothing except the concept of taqwa (God consciousness), ikhlas (sincerity) and Iman
(faith). It was not until the hearts of the first Muslims became saturated and
strong with true Iman did Allah (swt) begin introducing the next concept -
Islam, to the Muslims.
After our roots are firmly in place and take hold within the rich soil of Iman
and that is watered and nourished continually, we can begin understanding and
encouraging the practice of Islam or submission to the will of Allah. This
Islam, or submission, is like the trunk of the tree, sturdy, reaching up to
heights. Muslim children are not required to pray until they are 7. Why? Because
these first seven years are to be used by parents to plant the seed of Iman and
help this seed to grow strong roots by teaching their children about Allah
(swt), about jannah, about the miracles and the angels and preparing them to
have a strong, balanced character. The "rules" of Islam come more easily to
those who have prepared their hearts with Iman.
which means excellence in belief is the neglected 1/3 of our deen. It is to
believe in God Almighty without the slightest speck of doubt. It is similar in
idea to the bodhisattva concept the Buddhists hold. And, when attained, it is
like the "icing on the cake," for the believer and his or her faith. "Ihsan
is the fruit that blossoms from our planted trees and shows up when the roots are
strong and nourished, free from disease and harmful insects. If we fail to
nourish our Iman by submitting to Allah, we will bear no fruit and our soul will
die. But look into the Islamic legacy. It is rich with ihsan. All the
achievements in art, science, architecture, literature, geography, politics,
economics, social movement, philosophy, medicine and more came from the Muslims'
desire to attain ihsan. Ihsan is our lost treasure that we must unearth and
does it mean? Like so many other Arabic words that I have mentioned, it has a
vast array of meanings. It cannot be summed up prettily in one English word or
phrase. Ihsan is excellence. It is perfection. It is beauty. It is balance,
harmony, discipline, good character, softness, gentleness, improvement, drive,
will power. Ihsan is a human reflection, a human attempt to achieve a high level
in the areas covered by the reveled 99 beautiful names of Allah (swt).
Surat Ar-Rahman, (Quranic chapter "The Merciful"), Allah (swt) uses
one of the most powerful and difficult to use literary devices - the rhetorical
question. If you have studied literature to any extent, you will know that the
rhetorical question can only be used in very special, particularized situations
and it can only be used when the author has much confidence and much leverage in
the answer and the motivation for asking the question. The rhetorical device is
amazing because, as it gives the answer to the question away, it leaves the
reader to contemplate deeply on the meaning of the question, and the profound
reasons behind the obvious. Allah (swt), in Surat Ar-Rahman, conquers this
literary device and uses it in truly miraculous ways.
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